AC Privacy Issues Pharmacies and Plan B

AC Privacy Issues Pharmacies and Plan B -...

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http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/173/12/1435 retrieved October 16, 2009 News Privacy issues raised over Plan B: women asked for names, addresses, sexual history Laura Eggertson and Barbara Sibbald CMAJ   The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is advising its members to collect women's names, addresses, and sensitive personal information before dispensing the emergency contraceptive levonorgestrel (Plan B) — a practice that is sounding alarms for women's organizations and privacy experts. As levonorgestrel moved from being a prescription drug to a behind-the-counter medication in April 2005, the CPhA posted guidelines for pharmacists online ( www.pharmacists.ca ) on distributing the drug, including instructions on the need to counsel women and a form to guide this counselling ( www.pharmacists.ca/content/about_cpha/Whats_Happening/CP hA_in_Action/pdf/ECP_PatientScreeningFormForECPs.pdf ). The CPhA also offered courses on how to counsel. The form asks for personal data, including the woman's name, address, the date of her last menstrual period, when she had unprotected sex, and her customary method of birth control. Pharmacists are also asked to record the reason for dispensing the medication. The CPhA advises pharmacists to store the information in their computers, as they would with prescription data. Pharmacists can charge a counselling fee for levonorgestrel, typically around $20. Health Canada made the drug available as a Schedule II non-prescription medication with the intention of increasing access, since levonorgestrel is most effective when used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. Figure. Requests for personal information may be a barrier to accessing emergency contraception, says the Canadian Women's Health Network. Photo by: Advance-Titan
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Collecting this information, however, may create barriers, says the Canadian Women's Health Network, which believes that any retail outlet should be able to dispense levonorgestrel without mandatory counselling by a pharmacist. Women and teenage girls who need the contraceptive but are concerned about their privacy and the collection and storage of their data won't go to the pharmacy to get it, says Abby Lippman, chair of the Network and an epidemiologist at McGill University. "It's an invasion of privacy," she says. "Why should we set
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AC Privacy Issues Pharmacies and Plan B -...

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